Cruisin’ Michigan Flexes its Charitable Muscles
Saturday's car show on Michigan Avenue and Friday's preview event combine the area's rich automobile heritage with local charity.
Although a large part of Detroit’s automotive history centers on American muscle, a car show running on Michigan Avenue Saturday will showcase an entirely different type of brawn.
In its fourth year, Cruisin’ Michigan Avenue is a free, all-day car show that runs from Wayne to Dearborn on Michigan Avenue. The not-for-profit event, which has grown from 4,500 classic cars and hot rods in 2008 to 16,000 last year, combines the area’s rich automotive heritage with charity, organizer Don Nicholson said.
“It’s a great way to be able to give back to the community,” he said. “We do not book any outside vendors unless they’re charities and they’re also in the community.”
The event’s growth has boded well for local businesses and tourism, as it has attracted an increasing number of visitors anywhere from Wisconsin to Ontario, Nicholson said. Still, the cruise’s focus remains local.
“One of the main goals of the cruise is to bring business to the (local) business community that’s there 12 months of the year,” Nicholson said.
“We don’t bring in food vendors, product vendors or anything else,” he added. “There are enough businesses on the road–those are the ones we’re trying to help.”
The cruise officially begins Friday at 6 p.m. with a charity kick off party and car show in Dearborn at the Automotive Hall of Fame on Oakwood Boulevard, Nicholson said. Individuals can enter their cars for $15, and a trophy for the best in show will be presented at 8:30 p.m. All proceeds will go to the Dearborn Firefighters Burn Drive, which is partnering with Cruisin’ Michigan Avenue for the first time.
Lt. Steve Worden, a Dearborn firefighter and chairman of the Burn Drive, said working with cruise organizers in the charity show is a perfect local addition to the drive’s annual fundraising schedule.
The organization–which raises more than $50,000 each year for burn victims and sick children–is always in need of more funds, Worden said.
“Every day I get calls (for help),” he said. “Any family in need in town…we take care of it. I don’t think there’s another fire department in the country that raises the amount of money and donates the amount of stuff that we do.”
Despite its noble focus, however, Cruisin’ Michigan Avenue isn’t only about helping local charities and businesses. April Zygmunt, a three-year cruise veteran who drives a 2006 Ford Mustang GT, said the core of the event is “going out, having fun and watching cars.”
For Zygmunt and other enthusiasts, Cruisin’ Michigan Avenue is a win-win with its combination of cars and charity.
“(It’s about) hanging out with my friends and doing what I love–just cruising,” she said.